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MVNO Monday: a guide to the week’s virtual operator developments

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26 Jul 2021

DISH Network has announced the signing of a transformative, long-term strategic Network Services Agreement (NSA) with AT&T Communications, making AT&T the primary network services partner for DISH MVNO customers. Through this agreement, DISH will provide current and future customers of its retail wireless brands, namely: Boost Mobile, Ting Mobile and Republic Wireless. DISH notes that the agreement accelerates its expansion of retail wireless distribution to rural markets where it already provides satellite TV services. AT&T is also providing transport and roaming services as part of the agreement, to support DISH’s 5G network. DISH stresses that it is committed to providing competition in the wireless market as the nation’s fourth facilities-based carrier. While DISH’s press release does not quote a figure, widespread US media reports have valued the deal at USD5 billion. The deal comes at a time when DISH’s relationship with current network partner, T-Mobile, has turned fractious. T-Mobile sold Boost to DISH, only to inform it that it planned to deactivate the CDMA network that powered the MVNO in January 2022.

Elsewhere, Altice USA has confirmed that it has rebranded its MVNO service from Altice Mobile to Optimum Mobile. The switch took place on 25 July and Altice clarified: ‘This transition represents the first step in the company’s plan to align its brands under one national Optimum brand, representing a commitment to delivering a consistent and reliable connectivity experience to all customers.’ Optimum Mobile is available to Altice’s Optimum customers across the New York tri-state area and its Suddenlink customers across the West and mid-Atlantic states, as well as to non-customers who live in or near the company’s 21-state footprint.

Sticking with the US, US Mobile has announced the close of its USD11.5 million Series A funding round from Boston growth equity firm Volition Capital. This funding will be used to accelerate growth and support new offerings, including the planned launch of eSIM services. The press release notes: ‘The company’s asset-light model is well-positioned to meet shifting consumer needs driven by the on-demand economy and advent of eSIM and 5G technology.’

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) has acquired a 25% stake in sister companies More Telecom and Tangerine Telecom, both of which are NBN resellers/MVNOs. The CBA seeks to leverage the deal to offer discounted telecoms services to its customers via a new strategic partnership. CBA’s Group Executive for Retail Banking Services, Angus Sullivan commented: ‘The integration of More Telecom and Tangerine into the CommBank app will give our customers greater control over their finances, in future potentially allowing them to view their NBN or broadband plan, usage and upcoming bills in one place. This partnership supports our ambition of providing our customers with one of the best digital experiences of any company globally.’

Belgian B2B player Citymesh has revealed plans to launch a consumer-focused MVNO over the Proximus network in September this year. The new service will be designed to pave the way for an MNO service, which would leverage frequencies made available to a new entrant as part of Belgium’s planned 5G auction. Citymesh CEO Mitch De Geest told L’Echo: ‘We want to be aggressive in terms of price,’ adding: ‘If we are to be the fourth operator, we will face the challenge of having just a few months to launch.’

Over in France, Prixtel has discontinued its wholesale agreement with Orange France and will now rely solely on SFR for connectivity. According to its website, Prixtel currently serves more than 300,000 subscribers.

Revenues of Lithuanian MVNO Teledema, which piggybacks on the Bite network, totalled EUR4.6 million in the first half of this year, Verslo Zinios reports. By comparison, 2020 full year revenues were EUR7.4 million, itself a 14% improvement year-on-year, from EUR6.4 million.

In Brazil, Fluke launched its service in Pernambuco on 21 July. Going forward, the MVNO is poised to extend availability of its SIM cards to Alagoas, Bahia, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina in due course. Fluke works alongside MVNA Telecall, which uses the Vivo network.

Finally, also in Brazil, IoT-focused MVNO Links Field – a subsidiary of the Hong Kong-based company of the same name – has confirmed that it now has 100 M2M customers in Brazil. In an interview with TI inside, co-founder Thiago Paulino Rodrigues noted that the company seeks to ‘support the sustainable development of the IoT ecosystem, bringing global partners and customers to grow together, enabling the creation of differentiated business models’. Links Field, which was founded in 2019 and launched in 2020, uses the Telefonica Brasil (Vivo) network for connectivity and enlisted Telecall as an MVNE.

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